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"We Have Seen His Glory"

In preparing homilies or practicing lectio divina, one of the helpful aids is a "Synopsis of the Four Gospels." The Gospel for today's Feast of the Transfiguration is a central event in the narratives of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The contours are recognizably the same, yet there are telling differences in detail.

As is well known, Luke's account specifies that Jesus ascended the mountain "to pray;" and that "while praying," his face changed in appearance. Luke also gives the subject of Jesus' conversation with Moses and Elijah: "the exodus that he would accomplish in Jerusalem."

Significantly, John's Gospel does not recount the Transfiguration event. Rather, the entire Fourth Gospel depicts the Transfigured Jesus. From the opening chapter the author confesses: "We have seen his Glory, the Glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Jn 1:14).

If we are among those who confess to glimpsing that Glory, then the concluding prayer of today's festal liturgy resonates: "May the heavenly nourishment we have received, O Lord, transform us into the likeness of your Son, whose resplendent splendor you willed to make manifest in his glorious Transfiguration."

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Is it possible that the "Transfiguration" narratives are actually a post-Resurrection motif?  Is it possible that some event, some tangible evidence, of the Resurrection is actually the genesis of the Transfiguration narratives among the early followers of Jesus, post crucifixion - post Easter Sunday events, that help spark the faith in the Risen Jesus?

I don't see what's gained if one bookmarks the Transfiguration as a post-Resurrection motif. In a great lline in today's Mass, from the underproclaimed 2 Peter, we are told we possess "a prophetic message that is altogether reliable." Then comes the great line: "You wil do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

 

Dear Jim and Tom,

Thank you both for your comments. I believe students of the New Testament are divided among those who think the event an anticipation of the Resurrection and those who suggest it is a retrojection of the Resurrection into the ministry of Jesus.

Luke seems to place it as an occurence during the prayer of Jesus and thus anticipatory of the glory to be fully revealed in the Resurrection.

But I like Tom's placement of our own understanding of the event within the context of the liturgy and the wonderful line of 2 Peter: "until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts." Hence too my including the Prayer after Communion in the post.

Mount Tabor was covered with light. Thy disciples, O Word, cast themselves down upon the ground, unable to gaze upon the Form that none may see. The angels ministered in fear and trembling, the heavens shook and the earth quaked, as they beheld upon earth the Lord of glory.

Christ, the light that shone before the sun ... having fulfilled before His Crucifixion, as befits His divine majesty, all things pertaining to His fearful dispensation, this day has mystically made known upon Mount Tabor the image of Trinity.
With His transfiguration, Christ showed in His own person "the nature of man, arrayed in the original beauty of the Image, and He made His disciples "sharers in His joy," while at the same time foretelling His death (Lk. 9:31) "through the Cross and His saving Resurrection."
(On Mount Tabor) Thou wast transfigured, and hast made the nature that had grown dark in Adam to shine again as lightning, transforming it into the glory and splendor of Thine own divinity.

John,

many thanks for your contirbution. The Eastern Church has a much richer liturgical and theological tradition regarding the Transfiguration than does the West. It is why it is so important that the Church breathe "with both lungs."

Some years back we began to purchase icons to display for the major feasts, So it was an enhancement of our liturgy this morning to have the icon of the Transfiguration prominently placed.

It is also the 35th anniverary of the death of Pope Paul VI.

It's also the anniversay of that most inglorious day of all days, the dropping of The Bomb on Hiroshima.  Oh, the contrast!

Ann - it is a strange and, perhaps for us, damning comparison - Hiroshima to the Transfiguration.  Psalm 97 came around during morning prayer this morning, and although I wasn't aware of the anniversary, for some reason, these lines made me think of the destructive power of the weaponry we're able to unleash (and have already unleashed):

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;

let the many islands be glad.

2Cloud and darkness surround him;

justice and right are the foundation of his throne.

3Fire goes before him,

consuming his foes on every side.

4His lightening illumines the world;

the earth sees and trembles.

5The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,

before the Lord of all the earth.

 

In this, as in many other things, it seems we've made ourselves God.